Business Association Launches Campaign Urging Candidates to "Fix Connecticut"

Connecticut’s largest business association is launching a statewide advertising blitz to exert its voice in the political debate in the aftermath of the state’s primaries as the focus turns to the November elections.  CBIA will on focus on raising public awareness of what it describes as the critical issues and challenges impacting the state's economic future and job growth. The campaign, called “Fix Connecticut” will include digital, broadcast, and print advertising and will run into the 2019 General Assembly session and beyond, officials said.  It includes a website,, and a video that acknowledges some progress made since the 2016 election, noting that "our state's economy is better than it was," but stresses that "we have a long way to go."

“High taxes, job growth, and a sluggish economy are the top concerns for Connecticut residents and must be priorities for lawmakers and candidates for elected office," CBIA president and CEO Joe Brennan said, echoing the video's urging "we need lawmakers that have a plan" to make the state more affordable, cut state spending and "help us compete with other states in the region."

The advertising campaign may also serve as a precursor to anticipated endorsements of candidates by CBIA in statewide and local legislative races.  In 2016, CBIA endorsed candidates in 22 of 36 State Senate races, urging the election of 4 Democrats and 18 Republicans.  There were also endorsements made in 85 of 151 House districts, including 23 Democrat and 62 Republican candidates.  Those endorsements came in mid-September two years ago.

“Lawmakers and candidates must understand what really matters to Connecticut and we want residents to understand how critical these issues are to the state's economic future,” Brennan added.  “We want to make sure those issues are front and center during what we believe is a make-or-break time for Connecticut.

The Fix Connecticut campaign centers on a five-point plan that outlines key policy steps designed to remove barriers to economic growth and leverage the state's many strengths, according to CBIA:

  • Prioritize Economic and Job Growth. Help businesses compete for talent, expand private-public workforce development initiatives, and continue strengthening high school and college programs to meet the needs of our 21st century economy. The best way to solve the state's fiscal problems is to grow the economy.
  • Cut State Spending. Reduce the size and cost of government, privatize appropriate state services, expand the use of non-profit agencies, and put the brakes on spiraling overtime costs.
  • Make Connecticut More Affordable. That starts with lowering taxes. Connecticut's personal income, business, and property tax burden is one of the highest in the country—a key factor behind the state's population decline, including the loss of billions of dollars in income.
  • Reform the State Employment Retirement System. Align state employee compensation and benefits with Northeast states' public sectors and the private sector and end the use of overtime in calculating pensions.
  • Improve Connecticut's Business Climate. Reject costly, burdensome workplace mandates, cut unnecessary red tape, block new taxes and fees that drive up healthcare costs, reform the state's unemployment compensation system, and overhaul transportation infrastructure.

"State lawmakers' actions have a far greater impact on our daily lives, our workplaces, and our economy than decisions that are made at the federal level.  With so much attention on national politics, we cannot lose sight of the critical issues impacting Connecticut,” Brennan pointed out, noting that the campaign will complement CBIA's advocacy efforts during the next legislative session, which begins in January.

CT Unemployment Rate Highest in New England, Higher Since Year Began

Unemployment in Connecticut nudged upwards in March from a month earlier, but remained slightly below a year ago.  The state’s jobless rate of 5.7 was higher than the national rate of 5.0 percent and the highest in New England. Nationwide, the regional and state unemployment rates were generally little changed in March, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • 21 states had unemployment rate decreases from February,
  • 15 states including Connecticut had increases, and
  • 14 states and the District of Columbia had no change,

new englandThirty-six states including Connecticut (and the District of Columbia) had unemployment rate decreases from a year earlier, 12 states had increases, and 2 states had no change.

The national jobless rate, 5.0 percent, was little changed from February and was 0.5 percentage point lower than in March 2015. Job growth occurred in retail trade, construction, and health care. Employment fell in manufacturing and mining.

Connecticut’s unemployment rate was 5.9 percent a year ago in March 2015, dropped to 5.5 percent by January and February of 2016, and climbed to 5.7 percent in March.

Overall in New England, the unemployment rate was 4.5 percent in March, compared with 5.2 percent in March 2015.  Across the region, the unemployment rate has steadily declined during the past year.  The rate was 4.6 percent in January and 4.5 percent in February, according to the BLS data.2000px-Bureau_of_labor_statistics_logo.svg

Last month, the unemployment rate in Rhode Island was 5.4 percent, in Massachusetts was 4.4 percent, in Maine 3.4 percent, in Vermont 3.3 percent and in New Hampshire 2.6 percent.

The highest unemployment rates in the nation last month were in Alaska (6.6%), West Virginia (6.5%), D.C. (6.5%), Illinois (6.5%), Alabama (6.2%), New Mexico (6.2%), and Louisiana (6.1%).

South Dakota and New Hampshire had the lowest jobless rates in March, 2.5 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively, followed by Colorado, 2.9 percent.

“We are still struggling to come to terms with a stubborn new economic reality,” said economist Pete Gioia of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association. “We are adding back low-wage jobs at a much higher rate than high-paying jobs.”

Connecticut has now recovered 77 percent of jobs lost during the recession, CBIA reported, while the U.S. has recovered 161 percent of jobs lost during that same time, according to DataCore Partners.

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Health Care Seen as Economic Driver in Connecticut, Propelling Growth

The first thought that comes to mind when someone mentions health care is likely not “economic driver.”  If a new marketing initiative by the Connecticut Health Council succeeds, that may be changing. Newly launched in January 2016, the Connecticut Health Council's "Did You Know" campaign is a multichannel content marketing program designed to raise awareness of the health sector's importance as an economic and employment driver in Connecticut. The initiative highlights data that may have escaped widespread attention across the state, with the aim of “promoting Connecticut as a center of health excellence.”connecticut-health-council-logo

The campaign includes a series of informational posters, now on display at the State Legislative Office Building in Hartford through the end of January, along with “traditional print and broadcast media content, social media alerts, and thought leadership.”  Among the stats highlighted:

  • The healthcare sector in Connecticut has grown 12.5% over the past seven years, and now employs 266,400 people.
  • There are 20,434 registered healthcare employers in the State of Connecticut.
  • From 2007 to 2014, healthcare and social services was the fourth fastest growing employment category in the state.
  • Connecticut’s healthcare sector generated $29.6 billion in estimated total before-tax revenue in 2012.

ozIn addition, the marketing campaign also highlights that thee of the top 10 fastest growing companies headquartered in Connecticut in 2014 were healthcare related companies, and that Connecticut’s healthcare sector has the fifth highest number of sole proprietorships of any sector in the state, with the seventh highest revenues. Connecticut’s “unique base of health sector assets” include health insurance companies, hospitals, medical schools, research capacity, and specialty practices, according to the organization’s website. hartford-logo

Founded in 2012 by the MetroHartford Alliance, the Connecticut Health Council is an association of health sector leaders who work to advance the development of businesses, initiatives and technology that improve health care and wellness both nationally and in the State.  The organization, which currently has 90 partners, fosters “collaboration, education, entrepreneurship and networking among leaders of for-profit and non-profit health sector entities.”

Speaking at this month’s Economic Summit & Outlook in Hartford, Oz Greibel, President & CEO of the MetroHartford Alliance, spoke to the need to highlight the data at the State Capitol, where the info-posters are on display.  “(The campaign) is based on the notion of the health sector as an economic and employment driver – and a place for additional capital investment.  Making sure that people at the legislature understand the importance of this sector, and that the actions that they take can be either helpful or detrimental, to long-term growth.”

posterThe Council's primary activity is to host programs focused on health sector topics that feature speakers of regional, national and international renown, the website points out. The Council also provides “a forum for a robust network of experts, professionals and other parties interested in promoting Connecticut as a center of health excellence and the health sector as a primary driver of economic and employment growth in our State.”

As Greibel described it, the Council’s activities are designed specifically “to leverage the extraordinary resources we have in Connecticut in the health care disciplines.”

Highlighting the impact of the state’s hospitals, the Council points out that Connecticut hospitals provide jobs to 55,000 full-time employees and spend $4.2 billion on goods and services.  Overall, Connecticut hospitals contribute $21.9 billion annually to the state and local economies.

The Connecticut Health Council is co-chaired by Marty Gavin, President & CEO of Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, and Bob Patricelli, Chairman & CEO of Women’s Health USA.  The executive director is Amy Cunningham.CT Health Council

Health Care Providers, Insurers Need to Collaborate to Improve Care, Rein in Costs

When Eric Schultz began his keynote remarks, the President and CEO of Massachusetts-based Harvard Pilgrim Health Care made sure to alert his audience to his homegrown pedigree.  Whether his youth in the Naugatuck Valley, college years (five of them) at UConn, or graduate work at Yale contributed to Harvard Pilgrim’s more-than-solid inaugural years doing business in Connecticut isn’t certain, but the above-expectations numbers are indisputable.  And Schmitt made clear that his nonprofit health insurance company is looking for even greater achievements in his home state.schultz Since entering the Connecticut market in the summer of 2014, the company has been aggressively growing its customer base in a competitive market while working diligently to grow and expand its network of doctors.  Harvard Pilgrim Health Care announced recently that its Connecticut membership has grown to more than 24,000, exceeding expectations for 2015. It now serves more than 800 Connecticut businesses.  Twenty-nine of the state’s 30 hospitals are now in-network.

logo_harvard-pilgrimWith more than 500 business leaders in attendance at an annual Economic Summit & Outlook last week, brought together by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association and MetroHartford Alliance, Schmitt spent some time touting a new model launched in the state of New Hampshire that he believes may be a glimpse into the direction the industry is moving. Harvard Pilgrim Health Care’s footprint in New England now covers “where 90 percent of New Englanders live,” in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine and New Hampshire. quote

Schultz, who succeeded now-Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker in leading the organization five years ago, pointed to what he described as “a practical example of how an insurance company and groups of providers can work together to get control of medical cost trends and to help improve medical outcomes and help create better experiences for physicians and their patients.”

The goals, Shultz explained, are to reduce insurance premium trends by 10 to 15 percent, to improve clinical outcomes, to create a better “practice environment” for medical staff and to grow business.  The partnership is driven to “produce something that’s better than what we have today, because we know the financing of health care is largely broken in the U.S.”

economic summitLaunched in October 2015 and in business as of January 1, Benevera Health, a joint venture led by senior leadership at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Dartmouth-Hitchcock, is a population health company, centered around “clinical and medical informatics.”  Dartmouth-Hitchcock, a nonprofit academic health system that serves a patient population of 1.2 million in New Hampshire and Vermont, is led by Dr. James Weinstein, recently named as one of “100 Physician Leaders to Know” by a national health care trade publication.

“We are combining insurance data with clinical data,” Schultz said, “from their electronic medical records and our claims system, and creating a very powerful source of information.”  That information, he stressed, could be used to better understand what’s happening in regards to patient care, and it can help to redesign and improve clinical care.  This has the potential to be especially important in chronically ill patients, noting that 10 percent of patients drive 50 percent of health care costs.  “It is a great financial opportunity and a great clinical opportunity.”

“The magic,” Shultz noted, is in having the provider and the payer sit down together and figure out” what should be done.  Too often in the past, he said, providers and insurers haven’t gotten together – a lack of cooperation and collaboration that contributes to higher costs and to disconnects regarding patient care.  His expectation is the Benevera will “reduce headaches” that insurance companies often cause providers, reduce duplication and costs, and improve patient care. cbia alliance

In fact, when the new venture was launched last fall, officials from the two companies stressed that the groundbreaking entity, “will take health care coordination to a new level by bringing together clinical, financial and operational data from across partner institutions to provide actionable analytics for clinicians to further improve the quality and efficiency of patient care.”  They added that  “at the center of this approach will be locally-based care advocates who will identify early opportunities to engage patients – especially those with chronic, complex or emerging conditions - and provide them with one-on-one support.”

Schultz noted that insurance companies tend to resist providers suggesting how insurance plans ought to be designed.  He disagrees with that resistance.  “If more insurers took more input from providers on plan design, we’d be a lot better off.”

Harvard Pilgrim is the only not-for-profit, regional health plan operating in four contiguous New England states.  Harvard Pilgrim’s flagship health plans in New England provide health coverage to 1.3 million members, while another 1.4 million individuals are served through Health Plans, Inc., a subsidiary that provides integrated care management, health coaching and plan administration solutions to self-funded employers nationwide.  Schultz holds an MBA in Health Care Leadership from Yale University’s School of Management, as well as a bachelor of science degree in biology and a bachelor of arts degree in economics from the University of Connecticut.

“We’re about change and driving change,” Schultz told those attending the Hartford summit, “and I believe we need to do more of that.”  He’s hoping to build a similar structure in Connecticut, and in other states around the country, because “it’s exactly what we need to do.”

Link to CT-N video of Economic Summit & Outlook.

Connecticut Businesses Encourage Voluntary Community Service on Company Time

Nearly two-thirds of Connecticut companies surveyed by the Connecticut Business & Industry Association report that they pay their employees for one or two days of volunteerism, another 17 percent offer three or four paid days, and 10 percent offer five or more paid days for employees to engage in community service activities. That data was included in the newly released 2015 Connecticut Corporate Giving Survey.  The survey includes nearly 200 businesses and has a margin of error of plus or minus 7.2 report

Among survey respondents, 57 percent say they are more likely to hire candidates who are active in their communities, and one-third say customers do business with them based in part on their reputation for good corporate citizenship.  Just over half, 53 percent, say they encourage or allow employees to volunteer on company time.

Community volunteering is very important for employees who seek a higher purpose in life and look for meaning, says Khadija Al Arkoubi, an assistant professor of management at the University of New Haven: "Companies that allow it improve their employees' engagement and well-being," Arkoubi told Fast Company magazine. "They also develop their soft skills including their leadership capabilities."

The Society for Human Resource Management surveys employers about the benefits they offer. In 2013, about 20 percent said they give their workers a bank of paid time off specifically for volunteering, up from 15 percent in time

A UnitedHealth Group study in 2013 found that 87 percent of people who volunteered in the previous year said that volunteering had developed teamwork and people skills, and 81 percent agreed that volunteering together strengthens relationships among colleagues, Fast Company reported. In addition, four out of five employed people who volunteered in the past year said that they “feel better about their employer” because of the employer’s involvement in volunteer activities, according to the publication.

“It is encouraging to see that not only do many businesses provide incentives for employees to volunteer for area charities, but many voluntarily pay them for their efforts,” said Brian J. Flaherty, Senior Vice President of CBIA.  In the CBIA survey, nearly one-third of businesses (31%) said they recognize or reward employees for volunteer service.

CBIA is Connecticut’s leading business organization, with public policy staff working with state government to help shape specific laws and regulations to support job creation and make Connecticut’s business climate competitive.

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Manufacturing Businesses, Not Only GE, Being Courted to Move As Fewer Praise CT's Quality of Life

Connecticut’s state government has been working diligently to boost manufacturing and manufacturers in the state, but the latest statewide survey suggests there remain significant obstacles on the road to realizing the goal of growing and sustaining a vibrant manufacturing sector. Among manufacturers, 94 percent handle their production in Connecticut, according to the just-released 2015 Survey of Connecticut Businesses by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association and BlumShapiro. While the survey analysis describes that number as encouraging, it also notes that 28% have production facilities in other parts of the U.S., and 24% in other countries—“which means they may be more likely to consider expanding or shifting more of their production elsewhere.”cover

The report indicates that the “factors that drive site location include access to key inputs; proximity to suppliers and customers; access to skilled labor; cost of labor; occupancy costs; affordable energy; and where companies are in their life cycle (e.g., mature companies are often likely to disperse geographically to reduce costs).

Although the courting by Governors from across the nation of General Electric’s corporate management has garnered much media and political attention, it is certainly not the only company that is the subject of someone else’s attention.  The CBIA-BlumShapiro report said that one in three businesses surveyed have been approached about moving or expanding their operations to another state.

Of those, the analysis continued, “nearly one in four are planning on moving to that state, 29 percent are considering shifting significant production to another state within five years, and 31 percent are weighing expansion in another state within five years.aother state

Although the report shows that 63 percent of businesses surveyed showed a profit this past year—the best this survey has seen since 2006 - the report indicated that “a primary area of concern” is the expansion of businesses over the next five years, and whether that expansion will take place in Connecticut or elsewhere.

quoteWhether perception drives reality or reality is drives perception, the opinions stated by business surveyed are less than encouraging, according to the report.  Primary reasons cited for moving or expanding outside Connecticut are the state’s high costs (including taxes) and its “anti-competitive business environment,” reflecting an oft-stated CBIA viewpoint.  More than three-quarters say Connecticut’s business climate is subpar compared with other states in the Northeast, and the nation.

The report also noted the significant number of state companies that depend on other Connecticut businesses.  “The vast majority of companies surveyed (70 percent) are somewhat or highly dependent on larger Connecticut companies or businesses,” the analysis highlighted, “which raises concerns when tax hikes threaten to push large companies out of state.”

CBIA’s surveys consistently find that personal reasons also factor significantly in location decisions.  “Many business leaders point to Connecticut’s quality of life and the desire to work close to where they live as the main reason for locating and/or staying in-state. However, we are slipping here,” the report said.dependant

In a survey of Hartford-New Haven-Springfield businesses conducted earlier this year, quality of life—traditionally the number-one benefit to operating a business in this region— surprisingly emerged as less of a competitive advantage today.  In fact, there has been a steady decline in the percentage of company leaders citing quality of life as the greatest benefit of operating a business here: 47 percent in 2009, 43 percent in 2011, 40 percent in 2013, and just over a third (35 percent) in 2015.


Northwest Connecticut Economy on Cusp of Recovery; Workforce Factors Are Key

Nearly 60 percent of businesses in northwest Connecticut project an increase in total sales revenue in 2015, according to a new survey, although fewer than half of the businesses surveyed (46 percent) anticipate higher pre-tax profits next year. The 2014 Survey of Northwest Connecticut Businesses, conducted by the Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA) and the Chamber of Commerce of Northwest Connecticut, “paints a picture of a regional economy that is recovering but also constrained by rising costs and workforce challenges,” according to the organizations.NW Chamber study

Two-thirds of northwest Connecticut businesses (67%) surveyed are somewhat or very concerned about the area’s aging population, in terms of maintaining an adequate workforce. That’s up 11 percentage points from 2012, when the survey was last conducted. Business leaders predicted the skills most in demand will be industry-specific in medical, utilities, manufacturing, and construction fields (37%) and computer/IT skills (28%).

Businesses are fairly evenly divided on the greatest advantage to doing business in northwest Connecticut, identifying the region’s proximity to New York, Boston, and Springfield markets and amenities (22%); local environment (17%); supportive chamber of commerce (14%); active local banks (11%); and arts, culture, and entertainment opportunities (10%).

While 36% say they will have more employees next year, nine percent anticipate having fewer employees, and the majority (55%) expect no change in the size of their workforce.  Top economic priorities are, in order, growing the local manufacturing base, regional collaboration to attract business investment, and retaining a skilled workforce. The cost of living (cited by 43% of executives surveyed) is considered to be the single greatest disadvantage. Three leading issues two years ago, fell from the issues of most concern now: credit availability, healthcare costs, and tight marketing budgets.priorities chart

By a ratio of 2:1, employers in northwestern Connecticut believe that schools in their area—and throughout the state—adequately prepare workers for entry-level jobs, according to the survey. Although confidence in Connecticut’s education system prepagingaring workers for higher-level jobs is not quite as strong, the majority of respondents nonetheless believe Connecticut schools and colleges provide an adequate education for mid-level employees (59% of employers surveyed); management workers (61% of employers); and executive-level employees (58%).

Nearly 200 companies, with an average of 55 employees and representing a variety of sectors participated in the survey, and their responses reflected dramatic changes in recent years in the way in which businesses are marketed to potential customers. While quality broadband is viewed as an issue for one-third of businesses surveyed, 56 percent use social media to market their products and services (and 60 percent do other web marketing)—edging out print advertisements (54 percent of businesses). Radio, billboards, sales representatives, and word of mouth are other key components of the marketing mix, the survey found.

The report concludes that “with GDP data and other indicators showing we are on the cusp of a stronger economic upswing, pressure on hiring has increased to meet demand.”   Noting the “increasing numbers of retirees, Northwestern Connecticut’s workforce challenges, which have always been serious, are now critical,” the report emphasizes.


As CT Workforce Ages, Employers Look to Attract Young Workers, Seek State Policy Support

The good news:  three times as many Connecticut businesses say they are growing rather than contracting, innovation and investment in technology is strong and three-quarters of manufacturers surveyed say they are exporting. Those are among the lead findings in a survey of Connecticut businesses conducted by BlumShapiro and the Connecticut Business and Industry Association. While the 2014 Survey of Connecticut Businesses shows optimism that Connecticut’s business landscape continues to improve, there remain concerns about the economy and the ability to create jobs in Connecticut, as well as signs that the state’s workforce continues to get older. In fact, one in four respondents are facing a wave of retirements over the next decade, with at least 40% of their workforce aged 55 or older.CTbusiness survey

“Connecticut’s workforce is aging, with 53% of our respondents reporting that 20% or more of their workforce is 55 or above. There is much to be optimistic about in this survey, but the aging workforce is certainly a challenge we continue to face,” pointed out Joseph Kask, Office Managing Partner of BlumShapiro’s West Hartford office.

While 38% of companies offer flexible work hours, only 8% offer telecommuting. One in four respondents also has specific practices or policies designed to attract and retain younger workers, including internships, tuition reimbursement, high entry-level wages, apprenticeships, and school/college recruitment programs.  Many companies employ apprentices (34%), interns (57%), and temps (58%), and eight in ten companies (79%) plan to hire these workers for permanent positions.

The survey shows slightly greater anticipated demand for mid-level employees than entry level or line workers. Among businesses of all types, workforce demand through 2015 is concentrated on mid-level employees (33% of companies say this is their area of greatest demand) followed by entry-level employees (29%), line workers (28%), managers (8%), and executive leadership (2%).Other highlights of this year’s survey include:

  • 35% of businesses surveyed indicate they are growing; 11% indicate they are contracting.
  • 46% of businesses surveyed introduced new products or services in the past 12 months; 47% of them plan on introducing new products or services in the next 12 months.
  • Three-quarters of manufacturers surveyed are exporting.
  • 52% of businesses surveyed say the most important step policymakers can take to enhance business in Connecticut is lowering taxes; 24% say it is reducing regulations, and 11% say it is cutting government regulations.
  • 27% of businesses surveyed say technology is the greatest single investment, 23% say it is employee training, and 23% say it is property and facilities.

concern When asked how Connecticut should address the shortage of skilled workers, 32% of businesses surveyed say the state should reduce the cost of living, 28% say the state should support trade schools, 20% say the state should support education overall, and 20% say there should be incentive for training steady;

The industries included in the survey include manufacturing, professional services, construction, retail, hospitality/tourism, wholesale, insurance, finance, real estate and software/technology.  Nearly one-third of the respondents were in the manufacturing sector.

CBIA is Connecticut’s leading business organization, with 10,000 member companies.  BlumShapiro is the largest regional accounting, tax and business consulting firm based in New England, with Connecticut offices in West Hartford and Shelton.

CT Businesses Report "Going Green" Worthwhile; Sustainability Has Multiple Impacts

Eight in ten Connecticut companies that have invested time and money in “going green” say the effort has been worthwhile, citing benefits on the bottom line as well as improved employee morale, public image, and client/customer relationships. According to a new survey,  the main barrier to going green is cost, the factor cited by 65% of businesses.  Among companies engaged in sustainability, the strongest areas of involvement are energy efficiency (90%), waste management (77%), and green purchasing (74%).

Those are among the findings of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA) 2013 Sustainability and Connecticut Business Survey.  Sponsored by UIL Holdings, Inc., the survey gauges Connecticut companies’ commitment to environmental principles in their business operations and the impact of those efforts on business performance, stakeholder relations, and communities served.

The survey found that nearly two-thirds (66%) of Connecticut businesses engaged in sustainability. This is up from less than half (47%) in 2007, when CBIA first surveyed companies—but down from 74% in 2010, when the previous survey was conducted.

Mostt businesses (72%) find Connecticut’s environmental regulatory climate more restrictive than other states, according to the survey.  And nearly three-quarters of businesses surveyegoinggreen-icond (74%) say they would take advantage of state government incentives for going green, such as tax incentives and refunds for capital investments.

Among the other findings this yea, posted at, include:

  • Renewable energy is the area of greatest interest among businesses for future activities.
  • Though slightly more than half (53%) of the companies surveyed say current economic conditions have not changed their level of commitment to sustainable business practices, 11% have stepped up their efforts, while 9% have made green practices less of a priority. Eighteen percent say green practices are part of their DNA.
  • Nearly one-third of businesses surveyed (32%) require others in their supply chain—manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, and retailers—to adopt green business practices; 28% say that their own customers have requested or stipulated that they incorporate green business practices into their supply chain; and 9% have received similar requests from vendors.

The 2013 Sustainability and Connecticut Business Survey was emailed to 5,035 businesses in late April and early May; 434 businesses took the survey, for a response rate of 9% and a margin of error of +/- 4.8 %.  Most respondents (77%) were small businesses employing fewer than 50 workers. Businesses represented include manufacturers (33%), professional services (23%), retail (9%), nonprofit associations (8%), construction (6%), wholesale (6%), healthcare (5%), finance, insurance, and real estate (5%), and technology firms (4%). Companies engaged in hospitality, tourism, arts, and entertainment accounted for the remainder of respondents.

CT Businesses Less Optimistic About Immediate Prospects

Business confidence in both the U.S. and Connecticut economies slumped in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to a survey released by the Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA).   The organization’s Quarterly Economic Survey: Fourth Quarter 2012 found that more than half (52%) of surveyed business leaders expect the state’s economy to worsen in 2013. That represents an increase of eight percentage points over the previous quarter. Just 14% thought the state economy would improve, while 34% believed conditions would remain stable.  Expectations for the national economy also dipped, with 40% of those surveyed responding pessimistically, compared with 36% last quarter. About one-quarter (24%) felt conditions would improve.

The survey, as reported by CBIA,  showed similar results to the two prior quarters, with most differences within the margin of error of the survey. Some noteworthy responses include:

  • 34% of respondents expect increases in production and sales, with 21% seeing decreases, the best numbers in the survey.CBIA
  • 18% see their work force expanding, while 19% expect to shed positions over the next quarter.
  • 27% see an improved outlook for their firm against 22% who see conditions declining.
  • For their industry, 23% see improving conditions while 28% see declines.

The third quarter rebound in business confidence--recovering from record low optimism in the April-June 2012 survey--was short-lived. And the outlook has taken a turn for the worse since the fourth quarter of 2011, when two-thirds saw improving or stable conditions in the state and 81% forecast the same for the U.S. economy.

Based on the state Department of Labor’s latest figures, Connecticut lost 1,800 jobs in December, finishing the year with a net loss of 100 jobs.  The unemployment rate fell three-tenths of a point to 8.6%. Writing in the Connecticut Economy recently, UConn economist Steven P. Lanza noted that “Connecticut’s economy will struggle to post more than nominal job gains’ in the coming months.

The Connecticut Economic Digest, in the current issue, noted that in December 2012, private sector workweek hours show Connecticut “is still firmly in slow employment recovery mode, highlighted by the hours worked month-to-month volatility.”  The publication is developed by the state Department of Labor and Department of Economic and Community Development.

CBIA’s Quarterly Economic Survey: Fourth Quarter 2012 was emailed to approximately 1,900 Connecticut businesses in January of 2013. A total of 187 responded, for a 10.2% response rate and a margin of error of +/- 7.3%.